Tag: The Daily Mail

Newsweek has gone to the dogs

Friday, 22 January, 2016 0 Comments

One expects certain things from the Daily Mail site. Its “sidebar of shame,” a strip of thumbnail photos down the right side, which specializes in breasts and buttocks, sets the standard. It’s not surprising then that the Daily Mail would title a story “Indian boy, seven, is forced to marry a DOG to ward off evil spirits after his horoscope suggests his first wife will die young.” That headline alone contains more jaw-droppers than a week’s worth of the Telegraph, the Guardian and Newsweek combined.

Background: With Newsweek, one has, or had, different expectations. Founded in 1933 in New York City, Newsweek was one of America’s “big three” weekly news magazines, along with Time and U.S.News & World Report. It covered news, politics, business, entertainment, science, religion, sports and the arts with style and a liberal verve and had a circulation of 3.3 million copies in its heyday. But that was then. In 2010 , the Washington Post Company, its then owner, sold the magazine to 92-year-old audio pioneer Sidney Harman for $1.00. Newsweek merged with The Daily Beast website later that year and under the guiding hand of Tina Brown, the Beast’s editor-in-chief, it ceased print publication with the 31 December 2012 issue.

Foreground: But there was life in Lazarus and IBT Media announced it had acquired the title in 2013 and it relaunched a print edition of Newsweek on 7 March 2014. For those unfamiliar with the media scene, IBT Media is connected to the Korean pastor David Jang, who is not without controversy.

All that brings us back to dogs. “I ATTENDED A SWANKY WEDDING FOR INSTAGRAM-FAMOUS DOGS” is a recent headline in the new Newsweek. Zach Schonfeld’s article contains the following gem:

The dogwalker asked who I work for.

“Man, Newsweek is covering this?” he asked in disbelief. “Our society is so fucked, man. We’re gonna look back years later and be like, ‘Dog weddings? That was the end.'”

Indeed.


Useful tragedy beats manipulative clickbait

Thursday, 13 February, 2014 0 Comments

The web was filled with wonder last year when an upstart site called Upworthy garnered 7.8 million pageviews for a story titled “Dustin Hoffman Breaks Down Crying Explaining Something That Every Woman Sadly Already Experienced.” This was then topped with “The Kid Just Died. What He Left Behind Is Wondtacular,” which racked up 17 million pageviews. The clear and unmistakable message is that manipulative clickbait is a road paved with digital gold. Business plan: Write irresistible headlines + spam the Facebook News Feed.

But then Zuckerberg and Sandberg turned off the big tap and that has been bad bad news for Upworthy, which has experienced a 46 percent traffic decline in just two months. The moral of the story, as Megan McCardle puts it so nicely in her latest Bloomberg column, is: “When you build your business around Facebook, ultimately, it’s Facebook’s business you’re building, not your own.”

The News Long before the fall, however, lots of people had tired of the Upworthy scam, er, strategy, with its incessant drumbeat of banality, which it pawned off in such a way that critics were left feeling like curmudgeons who hated everything positive about our planet. What’s there not to like about good clickbait news? A lot, actually, says Alain de Botton in his new book, The News: A User’s Manual. The philosopher is backing up his thesis with The Philosophers’ Mail, a site that aims to make us think more about the news we consume. Rather delightfully, it borrows from the Daily Mail factory of headline-writing and design.

Why isn’t the news more cheerful?” asks today’s top story, topically. Snippet:

“At the Philosopher’s Mail, we’re not into good news or bad news. We start from a different place. Our primary move in selecting stories is to ask, ‘Would it be helpful to know this?’ This determines whether a story goes in or out. In order to live your life well, you need to deal with negative and positive information. News can very well be helpful when it is talking about appalling events. And it can be extremely unhelpful when the stories it tells us are cheery.”

Instead, de Botton & Co. are serving up useful tragedy and helpful victory. Their stories won’t get as many clicks as Upworthy’s “See Why We Have An Absolutely Ridiculous Standard Of Beauty In Just 37 Seconds” (11.8 million pageviews), but they’re not building their house on Facebook’s land, either.

This just in: “Alain de Botton — why I’ve started my own Mail Online: Media moguls aren’t philosophers. So it’s time for philosophers to become media moguls.”